Sunday, March 29, 2009


Another positive concept I find extremely attractive is interpersonal trust, the kind found in close relationships. There is no more important relationship at work than the relationship between an employee and his/her immediate supervisor. I think trust is huge.

Think of trust this way – it represents an individual’s willingness to be vulnerable to another in situations involving risk (Mayer et al. 1995). In my most recent research, my colleagues and I found a direct relationship between trust and employee performance (Simmons et al. 2009).

Ultimately, we have no control over whether or not people will trust us. But we do control how trustworthy we are. When people are evaluating us, deciding how willing they are to make themselves vulnerable to us, they are looking mainly for three things:

· Ability: Trust is domain specific, so we need to be really good at what we do. Expertise and proven performance go a long way toward encouraging people to trust us.

· Integrity: To have integrity, we need to speak and act in ways consistent with what others value. Honesty alone is not good enough – we have to stand for things our folks stand for, and we cannot waiver when the heat is on.

· Benevolence: This is the most important one. It’s all about intentions. Have you ever really trusted anyone you knew did not have your best interest in mind? We can cooperate with folks that don’t intend to treat us right, but we certainly don’t trust them. People can tell if we do or do not sincerely care about them, and it is one of the first and most important things they want to know about us.

There is no substitute for caring.

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